How do I get an acquirer?
There’s really no easy way to choose the best acquiring solution. Understanding how card processing works is useful, but when it comes to distinguishing acquirers, there’s a lot of overlap in roles. For example, American Express acts as acquirer, processor and card network all in one, but allows other acquirers to accept Amex through a special agreement.
Acquirers may offer card machines (sometimes even POS systems), a web portal for analytics and the processing part too, any of which may be outsourced or handled internally. Rarely do you see ‘pure’ acquirers that only offer just that.
In any case, acquirers will have the technological setup in place to integrate with card machines for point of sales or a payment gateway for online sales, enabling a processor (either the acquirer is also a processor, or an external processor will take over) to process transactions through the merchant account.
It’s possible to go directly to an acquirer to apply for a new merchant account, or a merchant service provider to look for a complete payment solution where they help with the merchant account, or aggregator for an easy solution that doesn’t require setting up a merchant account. Our overview below covers all these options.